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Is Your Closing Presentation Meaningful To Your Customer?

by David Brock on March 28th, 2012

Recently, I’ve been reviewing a lot of closing presentations.  It’s been for a variety of companies, in different industries, giant and small, around the world. They are all resoundingly the same—and deficient.  They’re also a reflection of our sales strategies, so they are, to a degree a reflection of how we have positioned ourselves with the customer.

Here are some things I’ve observed:

They’re all about us: 

First, there are always 3-4 “corporate glamor” pages.  These are the pages that brag about our companies.  They’re filled with how big we are, how many employees.  There is always at least one page filled with corporate logos–people who are our customers (As a side note–look at the competition’s glamor pages and they list the same customers–so what’s going on?).  They talk about our market leadership and the awards we’ve gotten.

Frankly, these are meaningless to the customer.  We wouldn’t be doing a final presentation if the customer didn’t think we were a credible supplier.  Customers don’t have the time and resources to evaluate any solution where they have any question about the organization’s capabilities to support them.  All those corporate logos don’t mean much to the customer.  IBM’s, Bank of America, GM’s, AT&T’s problems and goals are different than the customer’s.

They’re all about our products:

The presentations go into ad nauseum detail about our products.  It seems we can’t leave a single feature or function out.  We have to talk about everything the product does–even though it may not be relevant to what the customer is trying to achieve.  It’s as if we want the customer to do a feature-function count, selecting the supplier with the longest list.

They’re all about us:

From a pure format point of view, we slap our company name and logo on every single page of the presentation.  Every once in a while, we might also talk about a customer.  In one presentation I reviewed, the customer’s name was mentioned 3 times in the overall presentation–on the cover page, on the final page, and buried in another page.  These presentations focus on what our solution does, and why it’s wonderful, but not about the customer.

Imagine a closing presentation that is only about the customer.  Imagine talking about what the customer wants to achieve, the things that stand in the way of their ability to achieve their goals, how they can eliminate those barriers, and what will happen when they achieve the goals.  Imagine removing any fear they might have about their ability to accomplish the task, perhaps by showing a well constructed project plan, identifying the risks, critical success factors, schedules, and so forth.  Imagine describing to the customer, what you will do to accelerate the process, to help manage and remove the risk, and to help them achieve their goals.

Imagine doing this without any corporate glamor charts–they’ve already invited you to the party.  Imagine doing this without even talking about the product/service–after all, it’s just a vehicle by which the customer achieves their goals.

Imagine transforming the presentation about what we can do to a discussion of how we will accomplish this together.  Imagine changing it from a presentation, to a collaborative discussion about the customer’s future.

Imagine doing this not only in the final presentation, but engaging the customer in this manner through their entire buying process.

Which do you think has more impact?  Which do you think will engage the customer more effectively?  Which do you think will help you win?

 

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12 Comments
  1. I wholeheartedly agree. It is a waste of time to glamorize the business and give detailed descriptions about products. This is available on the company website and brochures. What people want to know is how a company’s offerings benefit them. Attendees want presenters to answer the question “what can you do for me?!”

  2. Amy Baish permalink

    Excellent read! This is so incredibly true. More of the focus should be on the customers wants and needs to achieve and help them to reach their final goal.

    • It’s amazing, things become much clearer and easier if you always start with the point of view of the customer. Thanks for the comment Amy!

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Dave!
    Talking about us is such a muscle memory, it feels like “implemented” in people’s behavior. But the executive buyers expext just the opposite, that we are talking about THEM, how to solve their problems with our technology and services, but not the other way around.

    Cannot be shared often enough!

    • Tamara: It’s always great to get your comments here! Putting the customer at the center of everything we do is the shortest and most effective path to success. It’s so easy, but so seldom executed. Regards, Dave

  4. David,

    Along with a huge contingent, I’ve been following your writing and speaking for four years. You are part of a group of top sales minds who write and speak about these issues regularly. And these valuable insights are free, easy to find, and delivered on virtual silver platters.

    Customer centric selling is unambiguously at the heart of the collective philosophy. Many organizations that are struggling to meet revenue targets are reading and listening, but not changing. Why is this?

    Why are companies trapped in their self-serving sales approaches? Why are they unable to change? What is the missing puzzle piece?

    As long as you write and speak, this old guy will continue to read and listen and learn and share.

    Thanks for another excellent post.

    Gary

    • Aw shucks Gary, flattery will get you everywhere. Actually your questions: “Why are companies trapped in their self-serving sales approaches? Why are they unable to change? What is the missing puzzle piece?” are really important. Mack Hanan and I used to talk about that frequently–afterall, much of this consultative and customer focused approach started with his and Neil Rackham’s writing.

      One of the conclusions we came to is that it is more a systemic problem within organizations–not just within the sales function. The fact is we care about what we care about–our own companies, products, results. As organizations and individuals we tend to to be very self centered and internally focused, to some degree it’s human nature—that’s why our customers are so focused on themselves.

      But if we’re to break through to our customers, producing results for them and through those, for us, we have to break free of this and become truly customer focused.

      Too many lay it on the sales function to solve, but it’s something the entire organization has to address. Look at the way product management and marketing train sales and the support materials they provide—it’s all product/feature/function focused. Look at the contracts we develop—too often the legal department is viewed as the sales prevention department.

      Sales needs to take the initiative—they need to change the way they engage the customer. We can’t let them off the hook to do it now—at the same time, we need the rest of the organization to align with sales, changing our approaches and becoming more customer centric. This is the only way we can systemically change the approach.

      As always Gary, I’m humbled by your comments and deeply appreciative of your participation in this blog! Regards, Dave

  5. Ken Millard permalink

    Too many times the approved template jams a lot of ppt real-estate with corporate logos and this just encourages delivery to be about us, us, us.

    • You’re absolutely right Ken, and from the customer’s point of view, “Who cares, why is it relevant to me?” Thanks for the great observation Ken.

  6. Beautiful piece. Just beautiful. I won’t be able to share this with enough folks.

    Thanks:)

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